Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Sachin Tendulkar opens in ODIs for the first time
March 27, 1994 - Tendulkar recorded scores of 82, 63, 40, 63 and 73 in his first five innings as an opening batsman and never looked back since this batting promotion.
As it panned out, Sachin Tendulkar, arguably the greatest batsman of all time, scored 49 ODI centuries in 463 matches. But, there's a catch. The truth is that all these tons came off just 385 matches.
During the beginning of his career, Sachin used to bat at No 5 or lower and hardly had enough time to compile substantial knocks. This is the reason why in his first 78 ODIs, Tendulkar was without a century.
Despite making his ODI debut in December 1989, it was in September 1994 that Sachin finally announced himself to the world stage with his maiden ODI ton.
During India's 1994 tour of New Zealand, the team's regular opener Navjot Singh Sidhu was down with a stiff neck and skipper Azhar decided to give Sachin a go.
“I was thinking of asking him to open for some time. He was scoring 30s or 40s or 50s or 60s, scores that were good enough for someone batting down the order. But I thought we were wasting such a good attacking batsman batting so low. For me, he was the No. 1 batsman in the team. So, I made him open,” Azhar recalls.
However, in the words of Sachin, he had to "beg and plead" for the chance.
"In 1994, when I started opening the batting for India, the strategy used by all teams was to save wickets," Tendulkar said. "What I tried to do was slightly out of the box. I thought I could go upfront and take the opposition bowlers on. But I had to beg and plead to please give me a chance. If I fail, I won't come after you again. In that first match (against New Zealand at Auckland), I scored 82 off 49 balls, so I didn't have to ask again if I would get another chance."
His knock was all the more special given the time it had come in. This was the 90s, when opening batsmen took their time in the middle, getting used to the pitch and the conditions. They would only go for the big shots once they felt they were set in the centre. But Sachin opted for a different route. He stepped out with all the positive intent in the world, taking the generally miserly Gavin Larsen for three fours and a six in his first over.
Many might no longer remember his 82 that day in Auckland, but it was beyond doubt a red letter day in his ODI career. Nine games on, in September of 1994 against Australia, Tendulkar scored his first ODI ton and India were a reinvigorated ODI team from that day onwards.
Sachin would go on to score 18,426 One-Day international runs which featured 49 centuries, including the first double hundred in ODI cricket. He recorded scores of 82, 63, 40, 63 and 73 in his first five innings as an opening batsman. In 344 matches as an opener, he made 15,310 runs at 48.29 (and 45 of his 49 ODI hundreds) as compared to 3116 at 33 from 119 matches when he batted lower down.
Many laud Tendulkar for being technically sound but a few like yours truly hold on to the belief that a Sachin in the mood to take on the bowlers was Sachin at his best. And the world saw the trailer of that feature film on this day in Auckland.
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